NBC is one of several entities behind a $9 million investment in Worldwide Biggies, a digital studio fronted by veteran children’s producer Albie Hecht.
Hecht will use the money to finance Web series “Meansters,” an animated project based on the so-called “anti-Beanie Baby” toy; and “Bigby,” an animated series, about an 8-year-old crimefighter, among other projects.
Another property, “Tricksters,” is being developed simultaneously as a movie and an online game. The live-action/CGI hybrid centers on a group of animated characters who play April Fool’s pranks.
In return for its investment, Peacock will get a first-look deal for all young adult-themed projects (but not for Worldwide Biggies’ kid-focused properties). Shingle and NBC will also collaborate on advertising and marketing efforts across NBC U’s nets.
Execs emphasized, however, that Worldwide Biggies will continue to produce for all networks; company is in a development pact with Viacom’s Spike TV, among others.
The Hearst Corp., along with venture-capital investors Greycroft Partners, Platform Equity and PrismVenture Works round out the group of investors.
Hecht, the longtime producer and former Nickelodeon and Spike prexy, oversaw such net franchises as “Dora the Explorer” and “SpongeBob SquarePants,” movie of which he also produced. He launched Worldwide Biggies to create properties with equal parts traditional and New Media elements.
Company is behind Nickelodeon’s highly rated mockumentary series “The Naked Brothers Band,” which takes advantage of podcasts and other digital platforms, as well as StarvsStar.com, a fantasy-celebrity game that’s set to launch in conjunction with TMZ.com
Goal of Worldwide Biggies is to bridge the gulf between Hollywood and the Web by developing products simultaneously for several platforms.
“The key is to conceive of all the platforms from the outset,” Hecht said. “We don’t want to produce for one and then graft on to the other.”
While the $9 million is small in venture-capital terms, the deal is one of the biggest yet in the growing category of digital studios. Venture money has begun to come into the space; former UTA exec Brent Weinstein recently launched 60Frames with $3.5 million in equity money.
Hecht said the appeal of a digital studio is that it is not hampered by the roadblocks faced by parties in the traditional television and film world. “We get to make and not just develop,” he said.